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A Wisconsin Middle School teacher was briefly suspended after showing a video about white actors wearing blackface in history class. Al Barron, a teacher at Monroe Middle School, was suspended while the school district investigated his teaching methods of African American history.

The 59-year-old teacher, who is retiring in two weeks, has taught in the district for over three decades. The suspension occurred after an assistant principal saw Baron teaching his eighth-grade class. Barron’s topic for the day was racial segregation laws during the Jim Crow era. The lesson included a video which showed how white actors using.

The assistant principal thought Barron’s lesson about how entertainers used to be racist was itself racist, according to the local paper. The assistant principal also apparently ordered that Barron stop the video as it was being played.

Baron was then suspended for two weeks. But parents were not in agreement.

Adrienne Aaron, who has a daughter in the class, spoke with the Monroe News.

“It had nothing to do with racism,” Aaron (whose husband is black) said. “History is history. We need to educate our kids to see how far we’ve come in America. How is that racism?”

“He’s one of the best teachers we’ve had,” Aaron added. “We can’t believe that this is happening.”

Sunday night, the school district reinstated Baron and he will be back in class today.

The following is a statement from his attorney CJ Horkey: “Mr Baron is very pleased that he will be allowed to return to the classroom tomorrow and the students that he has dedicated the past 36 years of his career to. He looks forward to spending the final 3 weeks of his career doing what he loves, teaching the young people of Monroe. He also wants to thank this wonderful community for its support though this difficult situation.”

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  • Brand.B.Informed

    It’s fascinating to see how ingrained it is in our nation’s ideology, and inherently within our educational system, a failing to tell the complete truth in our history. Yes we are taught that there were bad white racists and poor enslaved Blacks. But this only grazes the surface, leaving white children feeling disconnected or guilty. And Black children feeling like lesser. We then go on to water-downed narratives of a few key civil rights leaders and groups and pretend that our nation is on the road to happily ever after, kissing racism goodbye. Children are not taught that racism in America’s earliest phases was rooted in “biological racism”–or belief that blacks were literally subhuman, as witnessed through “scientific evidence” (comparisons of the evolution of skulls–images were used to show Blacks as being more similar to apes,etc.) It was THIS belief that Blacks were not actually human that was used as a major justification for racism. The justifications and understandings have simply shifted over time, yet the fundamental belief that Blacks are lesser remain.

    As for this teacher’s attempt to showcase another segment of our nation’s racist reality (using the period of Blackface entertainment) is commendable! Many often underestimate the power of media and entertainment in shaping ideology–people’s general, everyday beliefs. But it’s through the use of media and entertainment sources that throughout our nation’s history, and definitely continuing through today, that people come to “learn” about other cultures. Images are created and perpetuated, with those in power shaping what images are shown and what ideas about people are taught (i.e. in the past, it was popular to have Blacks as child-like and ditzy individuals, to today many images of black males in the media pertain to violence or crime). This teacher is shut down by a figure in power who acts as just another force that seeks to constrict truth-telling of our nation’s history.

  • copelli21

    This sounds like a teacher actually doing his job. Kudos to him for bringing this conversation on race to his kids.

    Hell, I had to wait until college to take classes that addressed such topics.

    • NapturallyNesey

      shoot even when I was in college I learned more by exploring on my own

  • ALM247

    It sounds like he was attempting to point out wrong doing, It doesn’t sound like he agreed with it, but that he was just making the students aware of another type of racism.

  • Mary Burrell

    This is part of what White Supremacy is about at least this man was trying to teach his students about racism in this country. Kudos to him.